AEW Dynamite may have been pre-empted Wednesday night due to the NBA Playoffs, but that didn’t stop Shaquille O’Neal from making a wrestling announcement of his own. When asked if/when he would be wrestling again, Shaq simply replied, “Soon. This summer.” And while he didn’t specify who or where he’d be wrestling, it’s a safe bet that the Inside the NBA analyst would be taking his talents back to AEW, where he is a pristine 1-0.
Considered to be the “greatest celebrity wrestler of all time,” by AEW President Tony Khan in an interview with Sports Illustrated, Shaq made his AEW in-ring debut on the March 21st episode of Dynamite where he teamed with rising star Jade Cargill against the duo of Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet. Prior to this match, Shaq had some in-ring experience, standing toe-to-toe with the Big Show in the midst of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 2016 at WrestleMania 32. But it was nothing compared to the level of action and bumps Shaq was involved in during the tag team match against Rhodes and Velvet. While Cargill was the one who ultimately pinned Velvet to get her team the victory, Shaq had some huge spots on the night, including taking a crossbody through a ringside table. Shaq was taken to the back in an ambulance, supposedly to receive medical assistance, but when Tony Schiavone opened the car door looking to interview him, the Big Aristotle was nowhere to be found. Many wondered if this was a sign that Shaq would be back to exact his revenge at a later date, specifically when the NBA season had concluded. Well, it seems the man himself has confirmed just that, targeting a summer return date to the ring.
Whether or not Shaq faces Cody in a rematch remains to be seen. There are tons of talents he could work with, including Paul Wight. Eagle-eyed fans may remember that the Big Diesel once challenged the former Big Show to a match that for one reason or another never materialized. And while Wight has yet to lace up the boots for AEW, a potential match with Shaq could be something that entices both parties, no doubt.
No matter who Shaq is set to wrestle or what role he is set to play in AEW or in wrestling, in general, going forward, one thing is certain. He certainly has his fans in the industry. As Khan told SI, “Backstage, I’ve never seen anyone come in and be more genuine, spend more time working on the craft for months, as well as paying respect to the wrestlers. This is one of the biggest stars in the world, and he came in to help us. He gave to the wrestling business in a way that was incredible, and I’d be remiss not to mention that.” Shaq, who was trained for his match by QT Marshall, also received praise from legends such as Mick Foley and John Cena, as well as his opponent in the match in Rhodes. Overall, as far as celebrity performances go, Shaq’s is certainly up there among one of the best all-time. And there is no doubt his encore performance will be just as great.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube.
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